publications

Abbott, Othman A.

Othman A. Abbott (1842-1935), a practicing lawyer at Grand Island beginning in 1867, was not only one of Nebraska’s influential pioneer lawyers but also one of the state’s first sellers of life insurance. Abbott recalled in 1928, “The federal tax collector found me here [Grand Island] and taxed me ten dollars per annum for a license as an insurance agent. The first insurance I wrote was my own. I took out a thousand dollar life insurance policy in the Mutual Life of New York, paying $20.92 as a yearly premium. It was numbered 102,122 and is now the oldest policy issued by the company in the state.



“I took pains to see to it that the old [Civil War] wound in my side was carefully noted in my application and was much relieved when the doctor passed me as a good risk. I was not only glad to know that my wound was no longer considered a menace to my health, but I was also glad to have the feeling that in the event of my death there would be something left from which any little debts could be paid.



“There was at that time in the west, and perhaps also in other parts of the country, a good deal of prejudice against life insurance, particularly among women. In fact, the hardest part of an insurance agent’s job was to persuade the man’s wife. Many people had a sort of fatalism about it and believed that taking out life insurance was in itself an invitation to hasten death. A common expression used by a woman was that she didn’t want any ‘blood money’ and didn’t want to be ‘paid for her husband’s death.'”



“When one of the old line life insurance companies urged me to take part in fighting the unsound ‘pass around the hat’ associations that sprang up, I refused and pointed out to them that these benevolent associations, even if they were not very sound financially, were doing a great deal of good by educating people to understand the value of life insurance.”

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Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
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